Prevalence of, and factors associated with health supplement use in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: A population-based cross-sectional study

Naseem Mohammed Abdulla, Faisal Aziz, Iain Blair, Michal Grivna, Balazs Adam, Tom Loney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Health supplement (HS) products that are available in the Emirate of Dubai (United Arab Emirates; UAE) contain chemicals that may adversely affect human health. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of, and factors associated with HS consumption, knowledge, related adverse events, and reporting practices of adverse events amongst the general population in Dubai, UAE. Methods: A cross-sectional household telephone survey using a computer-assisted questionnaire was conducted amongst a random representative sample (n = 1203) of the Dubai population that assessed HS use and knowledge. Dependent variables were supplement use and reports of adverse events while independent variables included socio-demographic factors, knowledge, attitudes, and practice. Logistic regression analysis was performed to identify factors independently associated with HS use. Results: Among the 1203 participants in this study, 455 (37.8%) reported ever using HS. Amongst ever-users, reasons for use were to improve health (66.1%), for bodybuilding (9.9%), disease prevention (6.8%), and weight management (5.3%). The majority of users purchased their HS from pharmacies (88.4%) or were prescribed HS (46.6%). Vitamins were the most commonly used HS (87.9%) followed by minerals (10.5%) and sports nutrition products (10.5%). Only 2.9% of users experienced an adverse event associated with HS use which all resolved when the HS was discontinued. Only three of those affected reported the incident. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that HS use was independently associated with female gender (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]; 3.26, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.26-4.70), higher income (AOR 2.41, 95% CI: 1.20-4.83), being a past-smoker (AOR 2.39, 95% CI: 1.27-4.48), having an allergy (AOR 1.75, 95% CI: 1.14-2.66), more frequent doctor visits (AOR 1.86, 95% CI: 1.02-3.39), taking prescribed medications (AOR 1.47, 95% CI: 1.04-2.06), and knowledge about HS (AOR 3.91, 95% CI: 2.26-6.76). Conclusions: Our study provides the first population-based estimates of HS use and HS-related adverse events in the Gulf region. Adverse events associated with HS are infrequent and this may be due to the well-developed regulatory framework in Dubai and the high level of knowledge amongst consumers who mainly consume vitamins and minerals on the advice of pharmacists or healthcare professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number172
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 12 2019


  • Attitudes
  • Dietary supplement
  • Drug-related side effects and adverse reactions
  • Dubai
  • Health knowledge
  • Practice
  • United Arab Emirates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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